New License Roundup

It’s the start of 2015, and some publishers are just itching to give us some new titles, even though cons in January are thin on the ground. The solution is, of course, social media. This week Seven Seas and Yen Press/Yen On announced titles. Let’s take a closer look.

Seven Seas is gracing us with four new titles. Akuma no Riddle is a newish title from Kadokawa’s Newtype magazine, and it also had an anime series last spring. The most important points about this series, in no particular order, are 1) it’s written by Yun Kouga, the author of Loveless, and drawn by Sunao Minakata, the artist of Pixy Junket. (Oh come now, surely SOMEONE remembers it…). 2) It has a yuri vibe to it, taking place at an all-girls school. And 3) It’s about girls being trained to be assassins. The last may be the most important.

Golden Time is a more comedic title, running in ASCII Mediaworks’ Dengeki Daioh. It’s based off of a light novel, and has everything you’d expect if you hear the words ‘comedy/romance'; childhood friends, one of whom has now forgotten everything; a female lead who is somewhat difficult for fans to like but will clearly be the main romantic option; and lots of angst. It’s by the author of Toradora!, which Seven Seas also releases.

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Orenchi no Furo Jijō (Merman In My Tub) is for female readers what Golden Time might be for male readers. It runs in Media Factory’s Comic Gene, which specializes in oddball shoujo, much like Kodansha’s Aria. The premise sounds a lot like Monster Musume or Ane-Imo, only with a BL subtext couple.

And there’s Mushoku Tensei – Isekai Ittara Honki Dasu. This runs in Media Factory’s Comic Flapper, which already gives it a leg up in my opinion. A middle-aged NEET who’s wasted most of his life get killed trying to stop a truck from hitting three high school students, and is reincarnated in a fantasy world, determined to make better choices and live a life with no regrets. The series has a lot of fans, though I have heard the lead character has a lot of perverted talk. But hey, based on a light novel, what did I expect? In any case, should be fun for fans of SAO or Log Horizon.

Next, let’s take a look at Yen Press, which announced four titles yesterday: one purely manga, and 3 where they announced the light novels on the Yen On line, and the manga (already out in one case) on the Yen Press side.

Oh, yes, there’s some Madoka Magica as well. Let’s start with that. Puella Magi Homura Tamura is a cute slice-of-life spinoff series, for those who like the characters but wished they stopped dying tragically all the time. There’s also Homura’s Revenge, where Madoka joins Homura in going back in time to change things, and I expect it will end badly.

Rust Blaster is the debut work from Yana Toboso, and I believe complete in one volume. It has vampires! And is by the author of Black Butler! Can’t imagine why this was licensed, who would buy such a combination? :)

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On the LN/manga combo side, we first have Strike The Blood, which also has vampires, one of which is our hero. He’s being watched closely by a teenage sword expert who has been sent to follow (indeed, stalk might be more accurate) the vampire and take him out if he becomes a threat. If you guessed their love story is part of the story, you’re right. The manga runs in Dengeki Daioh, and the author is also known for the g-dropping series Asura Cryin’.

Black Bullet looks far more future apocalypse, detailing the world 10 years after being ravaged by a virus, which is being combatted by Cursed Children and their minders. Basically, he’s a high school student who can do Tendo Style Martial Arts (I’m sure it’s a coincidence), she’s a childhood friend with superhuman powers. Together, they fight crime! The manga ended at 4 volumes, and ran in Dengeki Maoh, a Daioh spinoff devoted to games and light novels.

Lastly, and to the horror of Baccano! fans, who keep waiting for their big day, Yen On announced they have licensed the Durarara!! light novels by Ryogho Narita. Yen Press has been putting out the manga for a couple of years, and I suspect this, along with Index, was their most requested license. The story of Ikebukuro and the truly insane weirdos who inhabit it, the 2nd series of the anime is also set to begin soon. By the way, perhaps the biggest news for me: All three of these light novels will have digital versions. After seeing SAO, Accel World, and Index all print-only, I was worried that Dengeki Bunko was a no-go area for digital reads. It’s great so see this.

So which one of these new titles excites you the most?

New License Time

Yes, there are no major cons, but that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been activity. Let’s go in alphabetical order, starting with Seven Seas.

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These have been up on Amazon for a while, but I think it’s safe to say (control your shock) that Seven Seas will have more Alice in the Country of ______ licenses for us this summer. Two are from Ohzora Shuppan, and I think are direct to tankobon releases. Given the publisher has a line devoted to ‘Happy Weddings’, I’d expect more romance and less twisted psychology from these releases. Junk Box looks to be along the lines of Toy Box from earlier this year, i.e. an anthology catch all. White Rabbit and Some Afternoon Tea also looks like it may finally give us what many have been dreading but some will no doubt be pleased by: an Alice/Peter romance book. The other new title is from Ichijinsha, Black Lizard and Bitter Taste, and given the title will no doubt feature Gray as the romantic lead.

The next news is possibly the most exciting, especially if you wanted to get that old Tezuka book from Vertical but couldn’t as it fell out of print. Vertical Comics has announced it will be releasing digital versions of its classic Tezuka titles to digital platforms. This will include:

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Apollo’s Song – omnibus
Black Jack 1 through 17
Dororo – omnibus
Princess Knight 1 & 2
Ode to Kirihito – omnibus
MW
Ayako
Book of Human Insects
Buddha 1 through 8
Message to Adolf 1 & 2
Twin Knights

This is fantastic news for me, as I tend to read manga on the bus into work, and many of these Tezuka titles have been so large I’ve been unable to. Everyone should pick these up as soon as they are able!

Lastly, let’s talk Viz. In case you missed it, Viz has been quietly digitally rescuing a number of old manga titles from Tokyopop and Bandai and putting them out online. There don’t appear to be plans for new titles (unless they sell well, I imagine), but it’s nice to get some of these old series online in any form. They include:

D N Angel
Chibi Vampire
Fate/Stay Night
Future Diary
Trinity Blood
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
Lucky Star
St. Lunatic High School
Suki
Miyuki-chan in Wonderland
Mad Love Chase
Lagoon Engine
Million Tears
Kyo Kara MAOH!
Zone-00 (later this month)
Mouryou Kiden – Legend of the Nymphs (later this month)

As you can see, it’s a lot of stuff with a built-in fanbase and potential for new readers, but not enough potential to justify an actual print rescue. It’s also mostly Kadokawa stuff, likely in conjunction with their Comic Walker online site.

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Viz also announced a new Shojo Beat title, Komomo Confiserie, from Maki Minami, creator of Special A and Voice Over: Seiyu Academy. For those who worry this may go as long as those two series, it’s already over in Japan as of next month, so I suspect it won’t be that big. It involves pastry chefs and power imbalances, a guilty favorite of all shoujo readers.

But wait, Hakusensha fans! We also have a new print license rescue! Yes, one of the most missed of the late Tokyopop line will be returning in omnibus format with an all new translation. Maid-sama! is an amazingly funny series with a wonderful female lead who takes absolutely no guff but also has no idea how to deal with the guy she’s now fallen in love with. The series ended with Tokyopop’s demise, so I look forward to this re-release to see Viz get to the last 10 volumes – it only gets wilder as it goes on. Expect lots of leaping from tall buildings.

What are you most excited about?

NYCC 2014 – Day 4

The final day of New York Comic Con had the fewest amount of panels I was going to, as usual, but was not without interest, particularly after I did some more room camping and ended up seeing panels I would not otherwise have seen.

The first ended up being a Doctor Who panel – I got there an hour early, which was fortunate, as the line was so big many were turned away. This didn’t have any of the cast or crew, however. It was a panel with several SF and fantasy authors discussing how Doctor Who influenced their work and what it meant to them. As I expected, most of the discussion involved the new series, though a couple of the authors noted experience with Classic. When asked about what they took away from the series, they mentioned the character-driven stories, the philosophy the program has explored, the ethical questions it finds itself embroiled in, and how it prefers cleverness over brute force. One author, Mike Cole, seemed to be only a casual fan, and in fact discussed how his dislike of chaos and love of efficiency has led to him siding with the villains much of the time!

After this was a panel run by Kickstarter, discussing how to crowdfund your comic book, with several people on the panel who had done just that. Kickstarter was emphasized as a place to build communities, and as an added bonus you can get publicity that isn’t all self-generated. Kickstarter by its very nature lends itself to comics and small press publications – there are 4700 projects that are comics related on the site. It also helps gain an audience of pros and editors, who do pay attention to things like this – new talent is appreciated.

When asked about advice, one point was hammered down over everything else – think about your shipping costs. When you offer stretch goals, think about what weight is added that may put your calculations over what you assumed. For that matter, think about your stretch goals, period – they can make or break a project. Most Kickstarter projects get their money in either the first or last weeks of the funding period, when it’s either getting new eyes or when people on the fence make a decision to pay. All the panelists were clearly enthusiastic about this as a way of getting their work out there and noticed.

After that came a panel that was more in line with my actual coverage, Kodansha Comics. They had four new titles to announce, all of which are exciting. I may have had my issues with Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, but if CLAMP can get past the morass of plot kudzu it became and make it more like the start of the series, then Tsubasa World Chronicle, coming out next year, should be a treat. As for Fairy Tail: Blue Mistral, it was a fairly obvious pickup as well, being a shoujo spinoff focusing on cute young Wendy and her magical adventures. There’s also a brand new series by the creator of Gantz, called Inuyashiki. It’s so new Kodansha couldn’t tell us much about it, but it comes out in Fall 2015. I wasn’t the biggest Gantz fan, but it certainly sells well, and barring Kodansha licensing Hen or HEN – both highly unlikely – this is the next obvious choice.

The big surprise for me was the pickup of L♥DK. Not really because I didn’t think it fit the company – after Say “I Love You” and My Little Monster it’s an obvious choice. No, it’s more due to the fact that it’s 15+ volumes. The author has had several other series in various Kodansha magazines over the last few years, mostly in Betsufure, which is also where L♥DK comes from. But I believe this is her first title over here. It did have a live-action adaptation come out this past year. The plot is not really anything new – school prince ends up being forced to move in with our heroine, a fact they have to hide even as she falls for him. If you like any of the recent shoujo Kodansha has done, this will be right up your alley.

My last panel of the day was Crunchyroll Manga, though sadly they were unable to announce any new titles, although they said it should be ready to announce in a week or so. So we got to see some of the editor’s favorite titles, including ones she wish got more clicks such as Memoirs of Amorous Gentlemen. They’ve also recently updated both the web and mobile applications, making for a smoother reading experience. A relatively quiet final panel allowed me to duck out during questions (which tended to be of the “have you guys considered licensing title X’ variety) and head over to an amazingly packed Artist’s Alley before leaving.

NYCC has grown exponentially over the years, to the point where I think this year it passed 150,000. It’s not a con for the casual or the introverted. That said, it was gratifying to see they sorted out many of the tiny room issues (lines were still prohibitively long, but well-policed, and there were few arguments that I saw) from last year. The fans were enthusiastic as well – I had several long conversations about cartoons after the early panel Saturday, and spent Sunday talking with a 16-year old Doctor Who fan and a young woman babysitting her 13-year-old charge, a huge Attack on Titan fan, and had gone the extra mile for him by dressing up as a Survey Corp member herself. The con may have been packed, but everyone was having a lot of fun. And that’s really all that you can ask of a con this size.